OMAHA, Nebr. — Based on his past repertoire as an accomplished musician, singer actor and professional entertainer, it’s no surprise that the Rev. Sky St. John, pastor of Unity Church of Omaha, would find another public outlet to get across his message.
Since February, he and producer Patricia Rapp have been hosting Open Mind radio, 3 to 4 p.m. Sundays on KFAB-1110 AM, bringing to the airwaves poignant interviews with nationally known teachers and authors in the realm of New Thought, spirituality and personal transformation.
“My one compelling desire in life is to seek the Kingdom of God — always,” Rev. St. John proclaims on his website, and he does so with each guest on his program. He pays attention to the messages of his guests, and he seeks to clarify and perhaps even interpret how the ideas relate to the everyday lives of his listeners.
“I came from a fundamentalist background, so one of the things I see that’s important in my role is to translate some of the New Thought ideas into language and concepts that people who are not familiar with that — and not trusting of it — can accept it,” Rev. St. John said in a phone interview with The EDGE.
“I think there are a lot of people who are suffering under the guilt and shame and negativity that is so prevalent in a lot of religions. We’re hoping that by focusing on some spiritual truths can make their lives better.”
He and his co-host have introduced a wide variety of topics through such speakers as feng shui expert David Daniel Kennedy, Bishop John Shelby Spong, His Holiness Buddha Maitreya, Dr. Robert Ibrahim Jaffe, Robert Bly & Marion Woodman (co-authors of The Maiden King), Don Miguel Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements), shamanic practitioner and minister MaryCatherine Burgess, author Paul Ferrini, music therapy author Don Campbell, Dr. Bernie Siegel and author Marianne Williamson.
How did the Open Mind radio program originate?
Rev. Sky St. John: “After I had been here for six months, it was just an inspirational thought that came to me during my regular prayer meditation time. It was just something we needed to do. I was really busy trying to get the church on its feet and up and running. I knew the program needed to happen, but it wasn’t where my energy needed to be focused at that time. During the next year or so, some people got excited and then the idea found its way to a wonderful woman here named Shelagh Keleyhers. When she heard of the idea, she said she got shivers through her whole body and knew this was something she was supposed to do. She organized people, did research, motivated people and drummed up sponsors and really birthed the whole project. That’s how it came to be. It was just waiting for the right person to come along and take it.
Patty became involved with the program at that time, when Shelagh was organizing things. Shelagh knew her part in the project was to birth it and then watch it grow.
What is your intent for the program?
St. John: The intent of the program is to promote enlightenment. It is to provide an alternative voice to the Rush Limbaughs and Dr. Lauras of the world. It is to help people explore their spiritual nature.
Rapp: Along with that is our vision, which is to explore to unity and diversity of the human spirit.
St. John: We’ve had a great variety of guests — comedians and medical doctors and intuitives. My secretary and I were talking about the most recent show, and I asked her, “Are you getting the impression that everyone is saying the same thing? Because that’s the impression I am getting.”
She said, “Yes, I am.” We talked about how the spiritual principles of life are very universal, and they are showing up in so many different ways. Every guest we have is saying it in his or her own way. Hopefully listeners are getting that there is a basic spiritual understanding about the way the universe works. If we use those rules and laws, then our life gets better. And that’s the whole point: to help people have a better life.
Rapp: The message is coming in as many different packages as there are people. The hope would be that one person’s message will resonate with someone, whereas another’s may not.
What are your thoughts on what’s happening in Omaha?
St. John: I have been saying since I came here that Omaha is becoming a great vortex of spiritual energy. Incredible things have been happening in this town. We now have some alternative healing centers that are just splendid, beautifully done and elegantly created. And our church growth has been phenomenal, and I think that’s been the result of the growing awareness.
Rapp: When I was researching talk shows that would be categorized as “New Age” across the country, I only came up with only handful. To have one that is based in Omaha is pretty magnificent.
St. John: We’ve been broadcasting since February and we’re open to getting feedback about our time slot on the station. We find it difficult to get into any depth with our guests in the hour that we have.
One guest is presented each hour, and Ben Forest, author of God Goes to Hollywood: A Movie Guide for the Modern Mystic (September 2000) phones in a metaphysical movie review every week, so we try to make something local and current in that respect.
Who have been some of your favorite guests you’ve spoken with on the program?
St. John: The first guest we had on was wonderful. That was Dr. Harville Hendrix. He’s well known in the psychotherapy field and he wrote, Getting the Love You Want. We’ve had esoteric speakers like Robert Bly. Dr. Bernie Siegel was a delightful person to have the show.
Rapp: We’re booked through the end of October. Listeners in the next month or two can expect to hear Alan Cohen, Lee Carroll, Joan Borysenko, Leslie Temple-Thurston, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Neale Donald Walsch.
I don’t see how you can really contain any of these speakers in one hour?
St. John: Yes, we just open the box a little with our guests. Here in Omaha, which is such a conservative religious community, being able to do that even just a crack is a powerful thing to be happening. We’re really excited about the potentialities of giving people just a taste of what our guests have to offer. And I am deeply honored to just be able to hold conversations with some of these great spiritual teachers.
Both of you are hosts on the program. Describe what the other adds to the program.
Rapp: For me, Sky is the stabilizing factor. His strength is taking in the material from the guest and disseminating it back out to all of those listeners out there in a way that they can digest it, assimilate it and apply it to their daily lives.
St. John: And Patty’s my straight man! In all of our promos, I play the silly fool and she plays the wise woman…which is really what she is.
Rapp: It’s all an act!
I am honored and privileged to participate in this dream of Sky’s. It’s been a tremendous gift in my life.
St. John: It didn’t start out with Patty doing things on air. That was something that came to me. I came to her and said, “I’ve being told that you need to be on. That’s all there is to it.” She’s been extremely brave. It’s not something she’s done before, but she steps up to it and does beautifully. She has a wonderful, solid presence.
So you’re developing a good radio chemistry?
St. John: I think so. We have great fun.
Rapp: Sky has such an incredible creative spirit. It’s hard not to have fun. This whole radio program has been a co-creative process with spirit, right down to scheduling the guests. I am guided every step of the way, even as far as who to have on the program and where to have them appear. I can say it’s the first thing I’ve been involved with in my life when I have had complete faith that I’m guided by spirit.
St. John: And it wouldn’t have happened without Patty being that way. She’s the one who has done all the bookings with all of the guests. She does all of the research and correspondence. She sets it all up so my job is so simple. I waltz into the studio and talk with people and it’s so easy.
Any final comments?
Rapp: I don’t think we can every under-estimate the power that a single message can have on a person’s life. We get some feedback from some listeners, and for all that we get, we know there is much more out there that we’re not hearing about. We had someone with Nebraska Methodist College listen to the program here locally when we were speaking with Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. The college had something come up there within the institution’s College of Nursing, and they applied material from The Four Agreements to that situation and created systemic change.
For more information on Open Mind radio, go to www.unityomaha.org. Any businesses or individuals who are interested in supporting or advertising with Open Mind radio program can call (402) 571-1344 and ask for Marea Bishop.